By PRISCILLA LUNA, CommunityX
Chanel Rustad, a four-year-old Alaska Native child, is currently in the custody of a racist white couple, Nikki Richman and Joseph Jurco, after her father murdered her mother in January 2020. Chanel’s maternal grandmother, Aana Arlene, is fighting for custody of Chanel, who currently lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with the racist couple. Arlene is trying to bring her home to her village in Selawik.
Chanel’s father, Eric Rustad, did not lose his parental rights when he was convicted for murdering Chanel’s mother, Kristen Ballot-Huntington, nor when he was sentenced earlier this year. Refuses to give custody to Arlene, Chanel’s maternal grandmother, her father instead gave power of attorney and parental rights to Richman and Jurco.
Chanel’s maternal grandmother is pleading for custody, but the courts are not cooperating.
Meanwhile, Richman and Jurco have proven to the public that they are unfit caretakers. Advocates exposed criminal records, racist rants online and a genealogy report proving that Richman’s claim of being Native is false.
There are also images posted online of the couple calling Chanel “baby mowgli” —comparing her to the feral boy in The Jungle Book— instead of by her actual name.
A petition and fundraiser was created by concerned Indigenous rights advocates through CommunityX at BringChanelHome.com, through which over 54,000 signatures have been collected and $44,000 has been raised to support Chanel’s grandmother in her fight for custody.
Chanel’s story has reached thousands, with people across the nation advocating for her reunification with her maternal grandmother.
Chanel has the support of Indigenous rights advocates, celebrities, and thousands of concerned individuals all across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
Chanel’s custody hearing is set to take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 17. There will be a Day of Action for Chanel on Friday, July 14.
Here’s how you can participate and show your support for Chanel and her maternal grandmother:
Advocates are also asking supporters to change their profile picture in the lead-up to Chanel’s court hearing on Monday.
For more information, visit BringChanelHome.com and follow the accounts below:
@Bossi Masu Nagaruk @Che Jim @🍄Mushroom Auntie🍄 @TizzyEnt @Anahit Kirakosian🇲🇽🇦🇲 @doggface208 @Vinoy Alexander @What~is~Normal @nessa @Che Guerrero @Priscilla Luna @Renee Soto Guerena #BringChanelHome #justiceforchanel
Please join us in a Day of Action🤍💙
The second custody hearing will be on July 17th.
On the Friday before, July 14th, we are asking supporters to:
•wear blue and white (Selawik colors)
•post a picture of yourself with a sign that… pic.twitter.com/lB1A00YIW6
— 🤍💙 BRINGCHANELHOME.COM (@retrograde) July 9, 2023
Priscilla Luna is a mother, homeschool educator, community organizer, and activist for human rights. She is a member of All Power Books, Alquimia Global, and vice president of the Human Rights Council at CommunityX. Instagram: @priscillaluna_